Jason Olson, Deseret News
An air tanker drops fire retardant on a ridge during efforts to control a fire in the hills above Payson on Saturday.

PAYSON — Three wildfires in Utah were still ablaze Saturday as firefighters worked to contain them.

On Friday, 12 houses in Spring Lake and 60 houses in Payson were evacuated as the 1,000-acre Spring Lake fire approached. However, the fire did not reach any of the homes, and residents were allowed to return around midnight. The Maple Dell Boy Scout campground, in the Uinta National Forest, was also evacuated Friday.

The fire shrank to 700 acres early Saturday but then flared to 900 acres. The fire was 30 percent contained by late Saturday afternoon, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Loyal Clark.

Firefighters were working to build fire lines near the north flank of the fire. Helicopters continued to locate and dump water on hot spots.

Crews were able Saturday to build a line on the fire's west side, near the homes.

"We're focusing on hot spots and building a line around the fire," Clark said.

The fire came within 200 feet of Stacy Chapa's home before firefighters were able to contain it. Chapa took her four children to a relative's home in West Jordan while her husband stayed with the house to protect it from the fire with a hose, if necessary.

"The whole mountain was glowing like lava," Chapa said. "Once the sun came down, (the fire) just whooshed down the mountain."

LeAnn Ostler, a neighbor of the Chapas, took her 8-year-old son, Cody, to a family member's home and then came back to try to protect her house as well. Ostler said she was panicked because her husband was out of town on a canoe trip with their older son, and she did not want to deal with the possibility of their home burning without her husband by her side.

The two neighbors said the community worked together to be sure everyone had a plan of where to go.

By 2:30 a.m., Ostler said, the fire was still burning, but they knew they would be fine, so neighbors began returning into their homes.

Clark said Payson Canyon has been closed from the mouth to Maple Bench campgrounds. The upper campgrounds remain open and are accessible through Santaquin Canyon.

Now that the fire is no longer threatening the area around the Boy Scout camp, authorities Saturday escorted leaders back into the campground to retrieve belongings that were left at the camp sites.

Clark said the fire was started by a downed power line. The power company concluded its investigation into the downed line and told authorities it was due to fatigue — the lines were old and could no longer sustain the tension from the electricity.

Saturday, an interlocal fire crew made up of state and federal firefighters took over suppression efforts, Clark said. The fire could be contained within two or three days.

In Tooele County, the Little Bald Mountain fire also continues to burn through South Willow Canyon, near Grantsville. U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kathy Jo Pollock said Saturday that the fire had spread to about 600 acres.

Firefighters are working to construct a fire line and continue to battle to keep the fire from spreading through campgrounds. Eight 20-person crews, 13 engines and three helicopters were working to contain the fire Saturday.

Box Elder Canyon, South Willow Canyon and North Willow Canyon have been closed. The fire is two miles from a residential area. However, no evacuations have been ordered.

The Wagstaff fire, about 8 miles east of Tabiona in Duchesne County, began about 1 p.m. Friday. The cause is still under investigation. The 400-acre fire is 40 percent contained and is expected to be completely contained this evening. No homes have been threatened, and no evacuations have been ordered.


Contributing: Rebecca Palmer

E-mail: cmadsen@desnews.com